Author

Deborah Cruz

father's day, what makes a father, how to be a good dad

Today is Father’s Day. When you think of the word father, you think of the man who gave you life. But really, a father is something much more than that, if you’re lucky. What makes a father? More importantly, how do you know how to be a good dad? A father is someone who loves you at your worst, someone who shows up every single day, even when it’s harder than anyone could have ever anticipated.

I think in a lot of ways; men are given hall passes on their responsibility as a parent. It’s like we’ve lowered the bar so far we don’t even know what makes a father anymore and no one is teaching men how to be a good dad. I’m not even blaming the men. I’m blaming society as a whole. Somewhere along the way, it became acceptable to do the bare minimum and still hold the title of father. A lot of dads just accepted the status quo. Maybe they didn’t know any better or maybe it was all of those pats on the back for taking care of their own children.

READ ALSO: Happy Father’s Day

What is a father? A father is defined as a male parent but to be a good dad includes behaving paternally. Instinctually putting your child before yourself. Prioritizing their happiness and well-being above your own sometimes. We should celebrate these dads every day of the year, not just on Father’s Day. It’s about more than gifts, it’s about appreciating all that they do.

Today, I wish a Happy Father’s Day to all the involved fathers.

There are a lot of great dads out there. Men who constantly show up and are there for their children and partners all the time. Men who embrace the title and feel privileged to be a part of their children’s lives. Men who do everything possible to create a better world for their children. I hope there are more of those dads than there are men who contribute to the genetic makeup of their children and think that’s where fatherhood ends.

father's day, what makes a father, how to be a good dad

I’d like to say a special Happy Father’s Day to my husband, the Big Guy, for being the best father and husband anyone could ever want. He is 100% my partner in parenting. There is nothing I can do that he can’t do for our girls, well, with the exception of gestating them but then again, he is the husband who had sympathetic symptoms and weight gain so he tried. All kidding aside, I know that we are lucky because he is a kind and good man at his core.

He shows up when he’s exhausted and weary. Woke up many a night with our newborns, paced the floor with a colicky baby and held toddlers with nightmares of chickens and lemurs. The Big Guy does what needs to be done even when he doesn’t want to. He’s selfless and caring. His family always comes first and even though he and I had different upbringings and came from different cultures, he saw how important family was to me and he embraced it all.

father's day, what makes a father, how to be a good dad

This is what makes a father.

He drives on long road trips so that he can show his girls the world. He treats them (and me) we unconditional love and respect so that they can see what a relationship is supposed to look/feel like. He holds them when they’re sad, listens when the world is hard and confusing, hears the things that go unsaid and makes them smile when they are sad. The Big Guy tries new things and goes out of his comfort zone so that our girls won’t be afraid to spread their wings and fly someday. His love knows no bounds.

father's day, what makes a father, how to be a good dad

He’s driven to and attended countless ballet classes, recitals and performances. The Big Guy has worked backstage and volunteered to do things most dads would emphatically refuse. He’s been there for Robotics, soccer, gymnastics, violin and cheerleading. Helps with homework and hugs them when they’ve had a hard day. Listens to them gossip about school and talk about boys. Holds their hair when they’re sick, keeps them calm when they need shots and laughs the loudest when they are funny (even when it’s not funny). He builds them up so no one else can knock them down.

READ ALSO: A Baby Changes Everything

The Big Guy spoils them and makes them feel special because they are his girls. He encourages them and supports them in all that they’ve ever wanted to try or shown interest in. He is a cheerleader and a coach. He’s a soft place to land when the world knocks them down. He is so much more than words can say. They call him daddy, Papi and papa and he is all of that and more.

father's day, what makes a father, how to be a good dad

Wondering how to be a good dad?

I am so happy that my daughters have such an amazing man as their father; a man who comes home from a long day at work and still musters the energy to play for hours with the girls. A man who listens quietly as they recount the most inane teenage drama there ever way. A father who doesn’t try to fix everything and knows when to just hear you. He makes 3 am runs for Tylenol and 6 am runs for cupcakes for school, rides your favorite roller coaster with you 15 times in a row and watches your favorite cartoon until you tire of it. He does all of this and never complains. This is love. This is what I wish for every child.

father's day, what makes a father, how to be a good dad

Happy Father’s Day to our Big Guy. We love you so much and we see you. We see all that you do for your family. We see the sacrifices that you make and we feel the love you give every single day. You are the best man we could have ever hoped to share our lives with.

Love you to the moon and back and to infinity and beyond!
XOXO Your Girls

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father's day, gift guide, gifts, outdoorsman, dad

Somewhere between college and yesterday, the Big Guy has somehow become an outdoorsman. Surprises me too since I practically had to promise lewd and lascivious acts to get the man to eat lunch at an outdoor café due to “bugs” yet, here we are. We went on a family camping trip a couple of years ago and he has since been sold on the idea of all things in nature and I’m here for it.

Disclosure: I was provided some of the products on this list for review purposes but all opinions are my own.

While we’ve been camping in cabins and RVs, he’s been leaning more towards “roughing it” getting back to his great outdoorsman roots. He used to camp with his parents as a child. I, on the other hand, prefer my 5-star hotels to camping in a tent. Though I will say, there is nothing quite like camping in the great outdoors and looking up at the stars from around a campfire with nothing else around except for the sound of locusts and your children laughing. It really is magical.

READ ALSO: Why RVing is the Best Family Vacation

I fully support the Big Guys new found choice to fully lean into his more rugged side. Of course, he’s a tech junkie, metrosexual so this will be camping outdoorsman at its finest and most tech-savvy. The man already cooks like a gourmet chef, is the perfect father to daughters and is one of the smartest people I know. He does life to the fullest.

In celebrating this new endeavor, I have compiled a Father’s Day Gift Guide for the Great Outdoorsman in your life.

Classic Square Floating Sunglasses – Coopersfather's day, gift guide, gifts, outdoorsman, dad, coopers floating sunglasses

Floating sunglasses? What? Yes, there is such a thing. The Cooper frame from Rheos is designed to combine the best of style and performance. Made of a specialty material that’s lightweight enough to float on water, the Coopers will never sink if they fall over the side of your boat. The reduced weight also ensures these sunglasses won’t slide down your nose, cause long-term wear fatigue or result in tension headaches.

Soft-Touch nose pads are embedded for additional comfort and grip. The frame itself is designed to provide enough coverage to protect from all angles of sun and glare, with a style that looks just as good on and off the water. The Coopers feature polarized, anti-scratch, anti-glare, anti-fog, hydrophobic and oleophobic lenses with 100% UV protection in a variety of amber, gray and mirrored options. Basically, the Big Guy can run, hike, kayak, all-terrain bike and if the glasses fell off, they would float and he could find them.

father's day, gift guide, gifts, outdoorsman, dad, coopers floating sunglasses, nomad towelChawel Nomad Towel

The Nomad is the surf-inspired series with over 24 sq. ft. of absorbent surface for drying off. This quick dry changing towel has armholes, an absorbent hood and absorbent zipper pocket. The Chawel Sport will give you extra warmth and cover from the elements. Take your Chawel on your next surf safari, camping trip or backpacking adventure. The Chawels extra uses will save space and weight on your next trip. Use the absorbent stuff sack as mini towel, while the Chawel can stuff into its zipper pocket. Created by a beach lifeguard in Vancouver, BC. Think of it as the MacGyver of towels. Perfect for the MacGyver Outdoorsman in your life.

father's day, gift guide, gifts, outdoorsman, dad, coopers floating sunglasses, nomad towel, 3 gallon shower

3.0 GALLON SUMMER SHOWER: SS761

He’s got the Nomad towel why not give your camping loving dad a shower too. What else would you get the dad who has everything? Give him the gift of a hot shower anywhere he goes! Designed with an efficient 4-layer construction for optimal heat retention and performance. Simply fill and layout in the sun clear side up and you will have a hot shower in no time. Anyone who has ever spent a day roughing it in the great outdoors knows there is nothing more satisfying than a hot shower at the end of a long day.

father's day, gift guide, gifts, outdoorsman, dad, coopers floating sunglasses, nomad towel, 3 gallon shower, rfid wallet

RFID Theft Protection Leather ID Wallet

The wallet looks unassuming and like any other classic men’s leather wallet. It can hold 3 – 10 cards. It has a divided pocket for cash and receipts and a clear ID pocket with thumb slide window. It’s made with Nappa leather and has a moisture wicking nylon interior. It only weighs 1 ounce. No worries of there being a George Costanza situation going on here.

AFX

Some dads may not be as spry as they once were but still want to be active and should definitely be able to do so. That’s where the AFX Pro comes in to save the day. The Big Guy was a competitive soccer player well into his 20’s and suffered some leg injuries. Anyone who has been an athlete knows that all that high-intensity playing can play havoc on your body. You have to take care of it. Unfortunately, as we get older, we feel it a little more. That’s why the AFX Pro is perfect to keep dad in shape. AFX is a revolutionary new strengthening system that enables you to strengthen the muscles and tendons of the entire foot and ankle complex. It’s a system of resistance bands and training videos to help get you back into ultimate shape. When you put AFX to work, you’re harnessing a source of strength you never knew you had.

father's day, gift guide, gifts, outdoorsman, dad, coopers floating sunglasses, nomad towel, 3 gallon shower, rfid wallet, backmate

The Backmate

Speaking of getting older. We all are and that includes dad, even if he hasn’t felt the effects of it yet. I think most of us at one time of another have experienced back pain. The Backmate sets up in any doorway in seconds and provides fast relief from back and neck pain, stress & sore muscles. Dad can give himself a deep tissue massage any time to relieve the pain, lower stress levels and make his body stronger.

READ ALSO: Why Every Family Should go on an RVing trip before their kids grow up

The best part? 

All you need is TWO MINUTES PER DAY! Just lean into your problem areas, and let The Backmate do the rest! It relieves upper and lower back pain, alleviates tension headaches ( from bickering kids), improves mobility and range of motion, regulates nervous system for daily stress relief, reduces inflammation and increases circulation for faster healing and recovery.  Sounds like a winner to me. Plus bonus, I can borrow it.

The CloudLine Hiking Sock

The Cloudline hiking sock is a legend among serious backpackers and hikers. I know you are thinking,” come on Debi, it’s a sock! How legendary could it really be?”

Well, have you ever gone hiking and had to walk around with waterlogged feet? It is the worst. But the Cloudline hiking sock features ultra-soft medium weight cushioning throughout for long mile comfort. Premium merino wool wicks moisture, regulates temperature and resists odor making this the perfect sock for all but the warmest temperatures. See, I told you this sock was more than a sock.

tentsile, father's day, gift guide, gifts, outdoorsman, dad, coopers floating sunglasses, nomad towel, 3 gallon shower, rfid wallet, backmate, air beam bud

TENTSILE Connect Tree Tent

The Tentsile Connect Tree tent is built on a spacious and comfortable platform suspended above ground for versatile arboreal camping. It’s a family adventure like no other. Each tent sleeps 2 people and can be attached to other connect tents to create a suspended super camp with 3 or more tents. The suspension system keeps the tent off the ground making it environmentally friendly, plus comfortably away from roots and rocks for a sweet sleep.

Heavy-duty straps combined with 3 ratchet buckle system lets you tension and suspend the tent from 3 trees of at least 10 in. in diameter, at about 4 ft. above the ground.

Rainfly attaches snugly in inclement weather and can be pegged out for ventilation. It also has a 50 sq. ft. covered “dry porch” area under the tent to keep shoes, bags, dogs, and bike out of the rain. The maximum load weight of occupants and gear when suspended is 880 lbs. (do not exceed); recommended setup height is 4 ft. (1.2m). So basically even the burliest of outdoorsman can stay in the Tentsile connect tree tent. Plus, it’s just super cool. I’m pretty sure that’s the main reason it’s on the Big Guy’s list. Did I mention that TENTSILE plants 18 trees for every tent sold.

father's day, gift guide, gifts, outdoorsman, dad, coopers floating sunglasses, nomad towel, 3 gallon shower, rfid wallet, backmate, air beam bud

Lotus Belle’s Air Beam Bud

This easy to set up blow up yurt is perfect for the family who likes to experience outdoor adventures together. The inflatable Air Beam Bud, the first ever inflatable glamping tent is a must. It’s 10 x 10 foot in groundsheet diameter, has two mesh windows with canvas exterior blinds just like the Lotus Belle. It’s 7.8 feet tall at its highest point, so even comfortable for my 6’5” Big Guy. It’s big enough to fit a queen sized bed and only weighs 40 lbs. so you can transport in a backpack. There’s no center pole so you can use 100% of the space inside. It’s super-fast to assemble! The Air Beam Bud comes with a porch awning so no need to buy separately. The groundsheet thickness is super thick and waterproof. It’s perfect for the dad of girls who wants to be in the outdoors but doesn’t want to contend with some of the normal discomforts that come with the outdoors.

What would be the best Father’s Day Gift for the Great Outdoorsman in your life?

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Apple. Mac, PC, WIndows, Ios, Antivirus, Antivirus for Mac, Macs

Are you a Mac or Windows person? I am 100% a Mac person. Once I switched from a Windows computer to a Mac, there was no turning back. To be honest, trying to use Windows after being a Mac devotee for the past 15 years feels awkward and counterintuitive. Mac has always felt more user-friendly for me. It’s a very intuitive machine and the fact that it anticipates my needs makes me love it even more. However, there’s a common belief that you don’t need an antivirus on Mac because it’s so secure.

It’s true that Macs are not as easy as Windows machines to hack, but nothing’s impossible. The assumption that your Mac is naturally safe from malware can be costly, especially when you’re using your Mac for business purposes as I do. My Mac is the foundation for which my entire website is built upon. The thought of it going down or being susceptible to a virus is terrifying.

Macs make up only a small fraction of PCs on a cybercriminal’s radar. In reality, this is the main reason for fewer security episodes occurring on Macs. Hackers get a better “pay off” when they focus their efforts on Windows. However, this equation can change when you use Macs for business purposes. Businesses usually have valuable information or data that can be stolen or misused. Imagine a situation where your sensitive emails, email lists, documents or designs end up with a competitor! That would be a disaster.

READ ALSO: How to Keep Your Family Safe Online

Although Macs are reasonably secure, users can be tricked into installing Trojans. Not everyone lives with an IT genius like me. I learned a long time ago to not trust any unsolicited emails and never click on anything from an unknown sender. From a security point of view, users are the weakest elements in any computing environment. Can you be 100% sure that your users will not open a malware attachment or won’t be tricked into installing something dangerous?

There is also the threat of deliberate sabotage by a disgruntled or dishonest employee. This is why I have an antivirus installed. As my mama always says, “Better to be safe than sorry.” Installing a Mac antivirus will protect your business from such inadvertent, willful or careless user actions. Although the OS is secure, the same cannot be said about other commonly used software on Macs.

The Safari browser, for instance, has a very poor security reputation due to many known security flaws. Users can also be tricked into downloading plug-ins for video players in the guise of a codec or as an enhancement to the player itself, or they may be tricked into an unsecure Android file transfer for Mac. Installing an antivirus for Mac can help eliminate most of these security threats, which can totally wreck your business.

READ ALSO: Protection for your Most Precious Belonging

The cost of not installing an antivirus on your Mac can be catastrophic when your entire livelihood is at stake. A virus attack can bring your network down for hours or even days, compromise your business network or destroy your data. It can lead to disruptions and direct or indirect losses, including the loss of goodwill and customers. Therefore, it only makes sense to invest in security software.

What Threats Do An Antivirus For Macs Protect You Against?

The urban legend around Macs is that they don’t get attacked by viruses. This may have been true in the past. However, in recent times, the threat threshold has changed. Macs aren’t free from malware threats. This is why it is often advisable to have an antivirus.

An antivirus can protect you against the following threats:

Trojans
A Trojan is a piece of software which looks legitimate but is actually harmful. People are often tricked into running Trojans when they download internet files or email attachments. Once a Trojan gets installed on your Mac, it can delete files, steal your data, crash your system, download more viruses or create a backdoor which enables a hacker to have access to your system. A Mac antivirus software can protect you against Trojans.

Viruses
A virus is a software or piece of code which attaches itself to another program, and then reproduces every time the program is run. In the past, it was believed that Macs couldn’t be attacked by viruses. However, this has changed. It’s less like a virus and more like computer cancer if cancer were contagious.

Worms
A worm is a stand-alone program which can replicate itself. Unlike viruses, worms don’t need to attach themselves to another program. They can run on their own. Once a worm attacks a system, it begins sending copies of itself to other computers within the network. As it copies itself, it usually deletes important files. Unless you get a Mac antivirus to stop its action, a worm can “eat up” your system files, and cause your computer to crash. Worms can also install backdoors which give hackers remote access to your computer. This is a nightmare and could literally take down your entire business.

Bots
A bot is a program which “recruits” your computer for some nefarious purpose. Once a bot is installed on your computer, it enables someone else to have control over it. In most cases, bots are used for creating a botnet i.e. a network of computers which are used for Denial-of-Service attacks. Any decent antivirus for Mac can help you to root out any bots in your system.

Ransomware
Ransomware is malicious software created to lock you out of your system. Once it takes over your computer, it changes the login details, and effectively locks you out. The unsavory people who sent it usually ask you to pay money if you want access to your Mac. If you refuse, they can wipe all your data. This may be the lowest of the low. I’ve actually had someone ask for a ransom without actually installing the ransomware. Thankfully, the Big Guy is an IT genius and stopped me from doing something reckless in my panic.

In a nutshell, those are the five main threats that Mac users have to contend with. Other common threats include spyware, adware, rootkits, and keyloggers. The bottom line is that the threat threshold faced by Macs from malware is steadily growing. This is why you need a good antivirus for Macs. Such an antivirus can not only safeguard your system; it can give you peace of mind.

READ ALSO: Cyber fan or Cyberstalker and How to know the Difference

Make sure that you protect your Mac computer, friends. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your computer is safe just because it’s an Apple computer. My entire life is on my computer; contacts, photos, videos, my website, and my work. The thought that it could all be taken away in a matter of a few minutes because I didn’t install an antivirus on my Mac is absolutely terrifying.

Do you have an antivirus installed on your Mac? If not, what are you waiting for?

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secret life of pets 2, paton oswalt, harrison ford, kevin hart, tiffany haddish

Do you ever wonder what your pets really do when you leave the house? I do because I have a sneaking suspicion that our Lola is getting into all sorts of mischief. In fact, I got a Petcube camera just to find out for myself.  Surprisingly, at least in front of the Petcube cam, she’s as sweet and lovable as she is when we’re home with her.

Disclosure: My family was provided tickets to see The Secret Life of Pets but all opinions are our own.

Not the case with the gang of Secret Life of Pets 2. The Secret Life of Pets 2 follows 2016’s summer blockbuster hit about the lives our pets lead after we leave for work each day. This time it’s a little different.

secret life of pets 2, paton oswalt, harrison ford, kevin hart, tiffany haddish

The Secret Life of Pets continues the story of Max the terrier (Patton Oswalt) must cope with some major life changes when his owner gets married and has a baby. Max’s anxiety suddenly kicks in when he becomes preoccupied with keeping his owner’s toddler safe. He is the ultimate helicopter dog.

READ ALSO: Everything You Need to Know About Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge

When the family takes a trip to the countryside, anxiety-ridden Max has run-ins with dog-hating cows, aggressive foxes and a scary turkey. Luckily for Max, he soon meets Rooster (Harrison Ford), a gruff farm dog who tries to cure the lovable pooch of his neuroses. Rooster is more of a let-them-get-hurt-and-learn kind of canine.

A subplot has Snowball (Kevin Hart) and a new dog Daisy (Tiffany Haddish) working together to rescue an abused tiger from a Russian circus. Hot on their tails are scary wolves and a “cartoonishly villainous” lion tamer.

The dark humor and danger are toned down with more of slapstick violence that’s meant to be funny. Think Wylie Coyote and the Road Runner. Animals punch and throw knives at one another and a bad guy gets hit by a car, but no one is ever fatally injured.

READ ALSO: Why I Loved Disney’s Live Action Aladdin

For me, I saw a lot of myself in Max. I used to be a carefree, thrill seeker before I had children. The moment I had my girls and became a mom, it was no longer just my life. I was living for others. At the moment they were born, my life was irrevocably changed for the better, if not for the milder.

It was so overwhelming to love something, someone, so much that it felt like the thought of any ill ever befalling them would absolutely kill me. Our children are an extension of ourselves. They are the best of us walking around vulnerable in the world. Our children are our kryptonite but such amazing, beautiful gifts of kryptonite they are.

I went from being a “do what feels good” person to a “make good choices” person because it’s not just about me anymore. In the beginning of motherhood, I was a nervous wreck. I have never been able to be one of those parents who can go with the flow and just let things happen as they play out. I was never a “rub some dirt on it” type. I can’t overcome my instinct to protect them and to be honest, I’m okay with that.

READ ALSO: Cirque du Soleil Volta

My name is Debi and I am a recovering helicopter mom. I’m not saying that with any negativity. It was what worked for us. Maybe sometimes I was a bit neurotic in my overprotection but, in the end, as they grew older, I learned to let go little by little. I learned to trust in my own parenting.

I’ll probably never be a Rooster “let-them-get-hurt-and-learn” kind of a mom even though I know plenty of moms who are and it works too. It’s just not what’s comfortable for me. Honestly, my parenting technique was mostly about keeping my girls safe but a lot about preserving my own peace of mind.

Max gets the struggle of every parent everywhere and I loved watching him navigate his way through to the other side. I felt seen. The struggle of living with such immense love for a tiny little person is real.

Secret Life of Pets 2 is a winner for our family.

For kids, the moral of the story is to face and embrace the changes life inevitably throws at you and that’s such an important thing for our children to know. They have to know that change isn’t always bad and really, change is just an opportunity for growth.

Overall, my family loved the movie. My girls are 12 and 14-years-old and they laughed through the entire movie. In fact, the Big Guy said it’s one of the best animated movies he’s seen in a while and that’s saying something coming from him. I found it to be endearing and I absolutely loved Max.

Secret Life of Pets 2 is playing in theaters now, will you be seeing it?

 

 

 

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Tarte, Sugar Rush, Tarte Cosmetics, Best Cosmetics for Teens, Best cosmetics for Generation Z

Earlier this spring my favorite cosmetics company, Tarte, launched a brand new sister brand called Sugar Rush. You may be wondering why I care. I’m already devoted to Tarte but as in all things, there is always room for improvement. I’m not just looking at cosmetics for me anymore, after all, I am raising two young ladies. I’ve got a tween and a teen who want nothing more than to raid my makeup drawers.

Disclosure: I was provided some products in the Sugar Rush collection by Tarte but all opinions are my own.

The thing is it’s always been my belief that makeup isn’t necessary for girls that young because they are so absolutely beautiful, as is. Ah, remember when your pores were that small? Remember when you looked that rested? Oh and let’s not forget about the creaseless, voluptuous faces of the youth. But, I remember even then wanting to use makeup as a creative way to express myself and I know that’s what our young girls want to do too.

READ ALSO: How to Teach Teen Girls to Put on Make Up

Tarte’s Sugar Rush is made especially for Generation Z. The packaging is cute and fun, like the girls using it. However, it’s vegan and cruelty-free which makes me feel better about spending my money on it and allowing my girls to use it.

Tarte, Sugar Rush, Tarte Cosmetics, Best Cosmetics for Teens

Did I mention everything in the Tarte Sugar Rush collection is under $30?

The thing is that it’s make-up and skin care made with good-for-you ingredients. Even though it comes in super cute packaging and is perfect for your favorite Generation Z girl, the quality is just as good as what you’ve come to expect from Tarte over the last 20 years.

Can you even believe that Tarte has been around for 20 years? Tarte has always been committed to cruelty-free cosmetics so what better way to celebrate their 20th anniversary than by evolving the brand with the launch of Sugar Rush.

READ ALSO: The Parents Guide to Teen Slang

This colorful new collection uses quality ingredients to create long-lasting wear, skin-loving formulas with recyclable packaging that aesthetically pops. Everything in the collection is cruelty-free, vegan, naturally derived, dermatologist-tested and hypoallergenic which is perfect for my girl with sensitive skin!

READ ALSO: Tips for Raising Teenage Girls

The collection offers a nice variety of skin-care and makeup picks including two eye shadow palettes, lip products and facial products. Sugar Rush also has a few cute skin-care and brush sets and sweet, summertime scents that conjure up memories of the beach.

Sugar Rush may be “powered by glitter and good vibes” but it’s also backed by the high quality and reputation of Tarte. My girls are in love with the collection and so am I.

Tarte, Sugar Rush, Tarte Cosmetics, Best Cosmetics for Teens, sugar rush sweet slice eye cheek palette

I can’t get enough of the Sugar Rush vacay day rollerball and Sugar Spritz body spray. Bella is loving the cake butter whipped body butter and Sugar Rush sweet slice eye and cheek palette. Gabs can’t get enough of the Couple Goals double-ended lip gloss, squeezy clean face wash and star factor cleansing face brush.

Overall, we love Tarte’s Sugar Rush collection and, more importantly, I feel good about letting my girls put it on their face.

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5G, Verizon, WiFi

Disclosure: Thank you to Verizon Wireless for sponsoring this post.

In this day and age, many of us live our lives online. It’s no longer just a place we visit on occasion. We proper live there full-time. Most of us have smart homes and Smart televisions and everything depends on tech and the internet from grocery shopping to virtual doctor visits and even connecting with family. We’ve become dependent on the internet for almost every single basic need we have as humans.

In my life, I depend on Wi-Fi connectivity and speed to work all the time not just some of the time. My job, my smart home, television, social interaction and connection to the world all depends on my internet and Wi-Fi services functioning correctly. When it doesn’t, my life just doesn’t go as planned and that’s a nuisance.

While I am all for good surprises, spotty internet is not one that I am willing to contend with. If my internet doesn’t work, I can’t work. If I can’t work, I lose money. If I lose money that effects the lifestyle we can live. It also affects my credibility as a professional. If I have deadlines, I need to be able to meet the expectations of my employers and I simply can’t do that effectively with spotting connections.

Currently, Verizon has 20 new cities that will receive 5G and that includes Houston, LA, Sacramento and Indianapolis. Maybe you are wondering what is 5G?

5G is the fifth generation of wireless technology. It’s one of the fastest and most robust technologies the world has ever seen.

But what does 5G mean for you?

It means quicker downloads, outstanding network reliability and a spectacular impact over how we live, work and play. It means more convenience and less worry. Less stress and more trust.

The connectivity benefits of 5G will make businesses more efficient and give consumers more access to more information faster than ever before. Super-connected autonomous cars, smart communities, industrial IoT, and immersive education all depend on 5G.

5G, Verizon, WiFiIf you’d like access to 5G and want to know if your home is 5G-ready, check here. You can even try it free for 3 months with no annual contracts, hidden taxes or fees. You don’t even have to cancel your current service during your free 3-month trial. With your 3-month trial, you even get free YouTube TV. It’s a risk-free way to try it to see if you like it. What’s not to like?

My blog may contain links to other websites. I am not responsible for the privacy policies of those other websites. When you click on a link, your information may be collected by those websites so I encourage you to read their privacy policies. Any affiliate links are not associated with Verizon.

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Olga's Cantina, Galaxy's Edge, Star Wars, Millenium Falcon, Kat Sakas Kettle, opening day, Disneyland May 31st, DIsney World, August 29, Walt Disney World, Disney Creator Days, Disney Parks, Disney Resorts, Disney Cruise

Disneyland’s Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge opened officially May 31st! It’s finally here and we’re so excited. We’ve been waiting for this day for four years. Last night, our entire all things Disney and all things Star Wars obsessed family gathered around the television at 10 p.m. to watch the reveal live. Yes, we are that family.

Our trip is already planned. We will be arriving at Walt Disney World on September 1st to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. What better place for the couple who were introduced at their reception to the Star Wars theme and who honeymooned at Walt Disney World than Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge?

In 2015, when Walt Disney Company revealed plans to build “Star Wars” lands at Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida, legions of Star Wars fans collectively held their breath. When Disney’s chief executive, Bob Iger, revealed that one of the rides would allow us all to live out our childhood fantasy of piloting the Millennium Falcon we thought we were dreaming. We’ve been waiting with bated breath ever since.

READ ALSO: Galaxy’s Edge Opening Day Revealed

Disneyland’s “Star Wars” expansion is the biggest in the park’s history with 14-acres of complete Star Wars immersiveness for as far as the eye can see. Just imagine, you and your family at a trading port on Batuu in Black Spire Outpost on the edge of the wild wild west of space. It looks incredibly immersive and interactive and we can’t wait to experience it for ourselves this fall at Walt Disney World.

I’ve done some research and here is everything you need to know before you visit Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge

 You will feel like you are in a galaxy far far away

 When you enter Galaxy’s Edge, you will be on a planet called Batuu. You might remember it from the “Star Wars” comic books and television series. Disney describes Batuu as “on the frontier of Wild Space — the uncharted region beyond all known star systems.” Welcome to Black Spire Outpost, a port on Batuu.

Black Spire Outpost is a trading village built on a dry riverbed on Batuu in the center of Galaxy’s Edge. It absolutely looks otherworldly with rock spires towering before visitors.

There is no overt signage to be found around Black Spire Outpost. It’s all coded.  But here is some inside info:

Savi’s Workshop ( where you can make your own Lightsaber) has a flag with a stylized lightsaber on it.

The Docking Bay 7 Restaurant has a 7 on the building.

Each market place shop has a sign on the building.

It’s a fun hidden code to figure it out and you can do just that using the app. But I’ll tell you more about that later.

Know the Star Wars lingo before you go to Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge.

Rumors

Bright suns: Hello

Till the spire: goodbye

How much does something cost? They will answer in galactic credits, not dollars.

For example, a creature counter might be 70 credits.

Don’t ask anyone where to buy or build a “Lightsaber” because they won’t tell you. Hello, it’s contraband, You’ll have to inquire about the “scrap metal”.

Olga's Cantina, Galaxy's Edge, Star Wars, Millenium Falcon, Kat Sakas Kettle, opening day, Disneyland May 31st, DIsney World, August 29, Walt Disney World, Disney Creator Days, Disney Parks, Disney Resorts, Disney Cruise

Guests only have four hours to visit Galaxy’s Edge, so plan ahead.

If you have a Galaxy’s Edge reservation, you can’t just show up whenever you want. Guests are assigned specific, four-hour windows during which they can visit. Each guest with a reservation will receive a wristband for their assigned time from the “Star Wars” films will escort you out of the land. I don’t know but I think it would be pretty cool to get escorted out by Stormtroopers. If for some reason you leave earlier than your four hours, you cannot come back in. So don’t do that unless it’s an emergency.

It’s been suggested to use your time in Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge very wisely. We read that the 4-hour reservation is plenty of time to do it all but you have to prioritize. The suggested order was to first visit Savi’s workshop to build your lightsaber ( which takes an estimated 15 minute wait time and 20 minutes to build your lightsaber), next visit Oga’s Cantina ( which currently has a 2 drink and 45 minute maximum), then Smugglers Run: Millennium Falcon experience, merchandise and then food.

READ ALSO: Free Tips for Maximizing your Walt Disney World Vacations

I’m planning on building my own droid at the droid depot so I need to a lot of time for that. I’ve also heard that a visit to Dok-Ondars Den of Antiquities is a must see with high-end souvenirs. It’s also been said that you can probably hit Smugglers Run more than once if you wait to go again at the end of your 4-hour window. I’ll test the theory in September and let you know.

Once you’ve experienced all of the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge main attractions, take some time to immerse yourself in the citizens and environment. Soak it all up, you are in a galaxy far far away after all. How many people can say that?

How to be one of the first to experience Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

To get inside Galaxy’s Edge between its grand opening and June 23, visitors will need a reservation in addition to park entry tickets. Disney is anticipating beyond-capacity crowds. Even with your reservation, you are capped at 4 hour increments. There are no spots left unless you are staying at one of the Disney-owned hotels. Prices are currently starting at $500 a night. An identical version of Galaxy’s Edge will be opening at Walt Disney World in Orlando on Aug. 29. I will be there with my family on September 1st, ready to get my Star Wars on.

In anticipation of the new attractions’ popularity, Disney has taken steps to better equip Disneyland to handle massive crowds. As part of the Project Stardust initiative, Disney has added new parking and expanded pedestrian walkways throughout Disneyland Resort.

Ride queues have been reconfigured to put guests in the shade, and extra seating was added to the Adventureland and Tomorrowland sections of the park. The reservation system for Galaxy’s Edge may also help control crowds in Disneyland.

You can be part of the Resistance or the First Order experience.

Disney parks usually offer passive experiences.  I love riding the rides and watching as everything happens but that is not Galaxy’s Edge. Galaxy’s Edge is taking it to the next level.  It’s role-playing where you are part of the action. Disney’s employees have always been cast members, but the staff at Galaxy’s Edge go a step further. They are Batuu residents who greet you by saying “bright suns” and never break character.

The story of Black Spire Outpost is new and set after the events of “The Last Jedi.” Therefore, don’t expect to run into Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Darth Vader or Yoda. They’re dead so it wouldn’t make sense for them to be walking around the park. It’s an entirely new place and everyone is experiencing this for the first time.

READ ALSO: What’s New at Walt Disney World

One thing that I think is really cool is the atmospheric encounters instead of character meets with Rey, Kylo Ren, Stormtroopers and Chewbacca. No crazy lines because the characters are walking around the land interacting because that’s where they belong. Also, spontaneous atmospheric entertainment.

If you come across one of your favorite characters, I’m looking at you Chewie, they will stay in character while photo pass photographers take a “scan of you”.

The Galaxy’s Edge Rides.

Galaxy’s Edge will include two thrill rides, Rise of the Resistance, a visit to a Star Destroyer that includes a face-off with the ruthless Kylo Ren and the Smuggler’s Run where you can pilot the Millennium Falcon.

Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run recreates the experience of flying the spacecraft piloted by Han Solo and Chewbacca. Each ride vehicle seats six people, and the ride is designed to be interactive so guests will use controls to either pilot the ship, use blasters to defend the craft or keep the ship running smoothly as flight engineers.

Piloting the Millennium Falcon

Once aboard the Millennium Falcon, you hang in the main hold, which looks identical to the Falcon from the films. Once it’s time for your mission, strap in the Falcon cockpit. Each person is assigned one of three roles and you work as a team.

You can ride stand by, single rider or fast pass but fast passes aren’t available yet. We’ve read that the queue is shorter at the end of the 4-hour time frame.

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, Galaxy’s Edge’s second ride won’t open until later in 2019.

The Food at Galaxy’s Edge.

Oga’s Cantina will be the first place to ever serve alcohol in Disneyland. The bar serves already mixed cocktails and beers in souvenir glasses. This is not a full bar so don’t expect to order whatever you want. A fun bit of musical entertainment is provided by D.J. Rex.

I’ve heard the drinks are fun and creative but quite pricey if you want the cool souvenir mugs and who doesn’t? A regular cocktail at Oga’s Cantina can cost around $17, not including the price of a souvenir mug. Single beers cost $12 each, or $75 for a flight of 4 beers. The one I’m most looking forward to trying id the Fuzzy Tauntaun. It is Ciroc peach vodka, rolls peach schnapps, simply orange with tangerine, pure cane sugar and buzz foam ( be warned it will make your mouth tingly and numb) and cost $15.

READ ALSO: Best Walt Disney World Resorts for Families

Several restaurants serve “Star Wars” themed food, including a Ronto Wrap which is a sausage, pork gyro topped with coleslaw.

The Milk Stand serves the famous Blue and Green Milk frozen beverages. They’re coconut milk based frozen drink with the blue one tasting fruity and the green one tasting more citrusy. Blue and Green Milk drinks cost $8.

There is one free souvenir in Galaxy’s Edge and that’s the cardboard coasters at Oga’s Cantina. They’re single-use and free to take home. We hear you can even ask for a fresh one if yours gets mucked up by your drink.

How to navigate Stars Wars Galaxy’s Edge like a native.

Download the Disneyland and Play apps before your visit. They’re free! The Play Disney Parks app, adds a deeper level of storytelling to your Galaxy’s Edge experience by turning your smartphones into an interstellar “datapad.” You can use the app to activate droids, scan cargo crates to see what was inside and translate shop signs written in Aurebesh, the “Star Wars” language.

You can also use the app to interact with other guests in a game called “Outpost Control,” where you choose to play for the First Order or the Resistance. Earn galactic credit if your side starts to win.

Olga's Cantina, Galaxy's Edge, Star Wars, Millenium Falcon, Kat Sakas Kettle, opening day, Disneyland May 31st, DIsney World, August 29, Walt Disney World, Disney Creator Days, Disney Parks, Disney Resorts, Disney Cruise

The Market Place at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge.

This is the place where you can find and purchase all things Galaxy’s Edge except for anything labeled Star Wars or Galaxy’s Edge including workshops where you can build your own lightsabers or functioning droids. If you are wanting anything labeled Galaxy’s Edge or Star Wars you’ll have to buy that outside the land. But there is plenty of cool stuff to buy in Galaxy’s Edge.

Galaxy’s Edge has nine stores offering roughly 700 items, almost none of which are available for purchase elsewhere. Want to take a pet home from Batuu? Check out the creature stall in creature corner where you can adopt pets like the Kowakian Lizard Monkeys (very similar to the banshees of Pandora.)

The Black Spire Outfitters is where you can buy costumes.

Jewels of Bith is a souvenir shop.

First order cargo: bat Allison order

Droid depot is where you can buy and build your own BB8 or R2-D2 type droid. It comes with remote control and talks to other droids. Various personality chips are available.

Build Your Own Lightsaber

Savi’s Workshop is where visitors can build and purchase their own lightsabers for $199 plus tax. But don’t ask, “where do I buy my lightsaber?” because the locals won’t tell you. After all, lightsabers are contraband. If you want your very own famous weapon used by Jedi fighters like Luke Skywalker and Yoda you’ll have to ask where to find the “scrap metal.” There are over 120,000 possible lightsaber combinations.

All these amazing Star Wars immersive experiences to be had within your 4-hour reservation. I can’t wait for our trip to Walt Disney World this fall to experience Star Wars; Galaxy’s Edge for ourselves. I’ll be sure to bring you all along.

Olga's Cantina, Galaxy's Edge, Star Wars, Millenium Falcon, Kat Sakas Kettle, opening day, Disneyland May 31st, DIsney World, August 29, Walt Disney World, Disney Creator Days, Disney Parks, Disney Resorts, Disney CruiseWhat are you most looking forward to experiencing most at Star War’s Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland or Walt Disney World?

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Nasim Pedrad, Marwan Kenzari,Navid Negahban, Mena Massoud, Jasmine, Naomi Scott, Will Smith, Abu, Jafar, Aladdin, Disney's Aladdin, Live-action film, movie review, Guy Ritchie,

I’m not going to lie, I was expecting to be disappointed by Aladdin. I was very excited to see Disney’s Aladdin live-action movie since the moment I heard it was a thing but at the same time, the original Aladdin animated film is such an iconic film that I wasn’t sure anyone could live up to the hype of it. Below is my family friendly, no-spoiler Aladdin review.

In my mind, Robin Williams is the Genie. I couldn’t make myself believe that the Fresh Prince, Will Smith, was up to the task, no matter how much I love him. How can you fill those shoes? You can’t and I just felt like even trying was going to be a disservice to the original.

Nasim Pedrad, Marwan Kenzari,Navid Negahban, Mena Massoud, Jasmine, Naomi Scott, Will Smith, Abu, Jafar, Aladdin, Disney's Aladdin, Live-action film, movie review, Guy Ritchie,

I also wasn’t sure if I was going to love Rajah and Abu in the live action films because sometimes live-action animals look cringey and so unrealistic that you feel like the producers are just assuming we are all stupid but this was not the case.at.all.

READ ALSO: New Aladdin Live-Action Film First Trailer Release

Nasim Pedrad, Marwan Kenzari,Navid Negahban, Mena Massoud, Jasmine, Naomi Scott, Will Smith, Abu, Jafar, Aladdin, Disney's Aladdin, Live-action film, movie review, Guy Ritchie,

Then there was the matter of Aladdin and Jasmine. As many of you know, they are two of my daughters’ favorite characters. Animated, they were perfection but how would it all translate to live action? I’m sure that you have been asking yourself the same questions. I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to worry about any of it. The Disney Aladdin live-action movie surpassed every expectation I had and made me fall in love with the story all over again. In fact, dare I say, I may even love it more than the animated version.

First off, the cinematography was stunning. I felt transported somewhere between Agrabah and Bollywood and it was absolutely magical. The rich vibrant colors were as upbeat and optimistic as most of the songs. Speaking of songs, “I can show you the world” is one of my favorites in the animated film and I loved it even more in the live-action film. It felt more real and tender and hopeful. I’ve been singing it ever since.

Then there was “Speechless” which left me without words in the best possible way. As an outspoken feminist and a mother of daughters, I loved this female empowerment aspect of the movie. We’ve always known Jasmine, Naomi Scott, was and independent, strong-willed and fierce woman. She wasn’t the kind of Disney princess who needed to be rescued.

Nasim Pedrad, Marwan Kenzari,Navid Negahban, Mena Massoud, Jasmine, Naomi Scott, Will Smith, Abu, Jafar, Aladdin, Disney's Aladdin, Live-action film, movie review, Guy Ritchie,

READ ALSO: Aladdin on Broadway

Yet, in the animated film, it feels a lot like the street rat saves her. In the live-action movie, you can see that she doesn’t need saving. She can save herself and anyone else who needs to be rescued simply by following her own instincts. She loves and respects Aladdin, they are partners. Love is a beautiful surprise to them both.

As far as the casting for Aladdin goes, I felt the main characters were spot on. I love that they used real people of color rather than white-washing the characters. For me, as a woman of color, cultural authenticity is everything.  The fact that Guy Ritchie made the effort to cast, produce and maintain the authenticity and representation of a hybrid Middle Eastern-South Asian world in the movie is commendable. He did the right thing.

Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine was perfection. The perfect balance of beauty, grace, independence, strength and determination. I found myself, several times throughout the movie, wanting to stand up and applaud. It surprised me in the most pleasant ways.

Mena Massoud’s Aladdin was the living embodiment of the spirit of the animated film’s character. He played the part with a quiet, humble endearing demeanor even when he was being flip, he was lovable. There wasn’t one time I wasn’t rooting for him to succeed.

Nasim Pedrad, Marwan Kenzari,Navid Negahban, Mena Massoud, Jasmine, Naomi Scott, Will Smith, Abu, Jafar, Aladdin, Disney's Aladdin, Live-action film, movie review, Guy Ritchie,

READ ALSO: How Disney’s Coco Got Mexican Culture Right

Will Smith’s Genie was not Robin Smith’s Genie, nor do I think it was supposed to be. That being said, it was a spectacular performance on its own. He made the genie his own. The genie was an unforgettable, witty and affable character who could sing, rap and dance with a side of hilarity. The story of friendship between Genie and Aladdin is a beautiful, tangental love story, as meaningful and important as the one between Jasmine and Aladdin.  I think Robin Williams himself would have been impressed by Will Smith’s performance.

The characters I would’ve loved to have seen be bolder were Marwan Kenzari’s, Jafar, and his sidekick, Lago. I felt that their performances were both a little underwhelming considering their potential. For me, their characters felt less menacing and more annoying. I wasn’t afraid of them so much as just aggravated. However, in our current political climate where xenophobia runs rampant, perhaps making a Middle Eastern villain seem less menacing than his animated counterpart was the better choice.

Nasim Pedrad, Marwan Kenzari,Navid Negahban, Mena Massoud, Jasmine, Naomi Scott, Will Smith, Abu, Jafar, Aladdin, Disney's Aladdin, Live-action film, movie review, Guy Ritchie,

READ ALSO: Disney’s Beauty and the Beast a Family Review

I also loved the addition of Dalia, Nasim Pedrad, Jasmine’s loyal handmaiden and confidante. She brought a humanity to Jasmine and Genie. The addition of the character gave the characters a softer more relatable feel.

If you loved the original Aladdin animated film, you will love Aladdin the live-action film. You don’t have to feel guilty about betraying Robin William’s Genie legacy because Will Smith’s Genie is not the same. It is something completely different. As for the rest of the cast, they told the story of Jasmine and Aladdin with a quiet beauty and ethereal feel. Your children will find new heroes in Jasmine and Aladdin and you, parents, will love what they’ve done.

Mena Massoud, Jasmine, Naomi Scott, Will Smith, Abu, Jafar, Aladdin, Disney's Aladdin, Live-action film, movie review, Guy Ritchie,

I actually love the new Aladdin, maybe even more than the original.

But we’re split as a family. Bella and I fell in love with the new movie, the feminist empowerment was just the cherry on top. However, the Big Guy and Gabs are Disney purists and they adore the original Aladdin while saying the live-action is great but they prefer the animated classic to the live-action film.

Marwan Kenzari,Navid Negahban, Mena Massoud, Jasmine, Naomi Scott, Will Smith, Abu, Jafar, Aladdin, Disney's Aladdin, Live-action film, movie review, Guy Ritchie,

READ ALSO: Disney’s Nutcracker a Must See for Ballerinas

My advice to you, go and see Aladdin for yourself and decide. You won’t be disappointed. Even if in the end you prefer the classic, you will be glad to have seen Disney’s Aladdin the live-action movie. I promise. Then come back here and tell me which one you loved more. Really, it’s like trying to choose a favorite child. We love them all so much.

Disney’s Aladdin playing in theaters now starting May 24th. I’m ready to go see it again. I bet you’ll want to too. Also, the soundtrack is amazing.

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Cirque du Soleil, Chicago, Volta, travel, things to do in Chicago, Family entertainment

Cirque du Soleil’s Volta is coming to Soldier Field in Chicago this summer. I am so excited. Let’s be honest, every time I get the chance to experience a new Cirque du Soleil, I’m thrilled. Our family loves Cirque du Soleil. We go as often as time and distance allow us. Each show is different and magical in its own way.

Cirque du Soleil, Chicago, Volta, travel, things to do in Chicago, Family entertainment

The Cirque du Soleil’s iconic Big Top will be raised for the first time at a brand new location for Volta: Soldier Field!

Cirque du Soleil has had a special place in my heart since the Big Guy and I  saw our first Cirque show on our honeymoon, 20 years ago. Since then, we love to share the experience with as many people as we can. I feel like every time we leave a show, we’ve grown in some way; our hearts and minds have been expanded beyond disbelief. The name VOLTA refers to a sudden about-face, a change in emotion or idea often used in poetry. It also speaks to the jolt of energy delivered through the show.

 

READ ALSO: Cirque du Soleil Corteo and Amazing Experience for the Family

We’ve seen Cirque du Soleil in Chicago but never at Soldier Field. My daughters have never been to the Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears but thanks to the generosity of Cirque du Soleil that is all about to change this summer.

Cirque du Soleil, Chicago, Volta, travel, things to do in Chicago, Family entertainment

Cirque du Soleil is excited to add two weeks of performances of VOLTA’s Chicago engagement this spring. The show will be presented under its signature Big Top at the Soldier Field South Lot, 1410 Museum Campus Drive, Chicago, May 18 – July 6, 2019. Tickets, starting at $49, are available for purchase by visiting cirquedusoleil.com/volta or calling 1-877-9CIRQUE (1-877-924-7783).

Cirque du Soleil, Chicago, Volta, travel, things to do in Chicago, Family entertainment

Volta the show

Energetic, urban and contemporary, VOLTA is a captivating voyage of discovery that showcases never-before-seen under the Big Top acrobatics in a visually striking world. Driven by a stirring melodic score and inspired in part by the adventurous spirit that fuels the culture of street sports, VOLTA is a story of transformation. It is about being true to oneself, fulfilling one’s true potential, and recognizing one’s own power to make it possible. Ultimate freedom comes with self-acceptance, and with the liberation of the judgment of others.

Cirque du Soleil, Chicago, Volta, travel, things to do in Chicago, Family entertainment

BMX & Street Sports

The creators of  VOLTA drew inspiration from the spirit of adventure that pervades the world of BMX, street sports and acrobatics. Whether they are on a bike, hopping from rooftop to rooftop, or double dutch rope skipping, urban sports enthusiasts constantly challenge themselves and defy convention.

Cirque du Soleil, Chicago, Volta, travel, things to do in Chicago, Family entertainment 

Sure to be a Chicago crowd pleaser, VOLTA features a full-blown BMX park mounted on stage in front of the audience’s very eyes for the breathtaking BMX finale as riders invade the stage to deliver a jaw-dropping, fast and furious performance of nonstop acrobatics on wheels. The riders go up the jump boxes and perform air tricks before landing and leaping off the ramps again, crisscrossing and spinning their bikes in midair in a spirit of brotherhood.

Cirque du Soleil, Chicago, Volta, travel, things to do in Chicago, Family entertainment

READ ALSO: Luzia~ A Vibrant Waking Dream of Mexico

Cirque du Soleil, Chicago, Volta, travel, things to do in Chicago, Family entertainment

Volta Costumes

The stunning costumes of VOLTA have been designed by Zaldy Goco, famous for his work with Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Gwen Stefani and for TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Cirque du Soleil, Chicago, Volta, travel, things to do in Chicago, Family entertainment

Volta Ticket Information

VOLTA will be presented under the Big Top at the Soldier Field South Lot, 1410 Museum Campus Drive, Chicago, starting May 18. Tickets can be purchased online at www.cirquedusoleil.com/volta. Discover our VIP package – a cocktail reception with open bar and hors d’oeuvres inspired by the show, access to the best seats for greater comfort, complimentary parking and more!

Cirque du Soleil, Chicago, Volta, travel, things to do in Chicago, Family entertainment

READ ALSO: Running Away with Cirque du Soleil Kurios

To follow along and see what exciting and new experiences Volta will deliver, follow along on Social Media:

Facebook.com/VOLTA

Twitter: @Cirque #VOLTA

Instagram: cirquedusoleil #VOLTA

Have you been to a Cirque du Soleil show? Have you seen Volta? What’s your favorite Cirque du Soleil show and why?

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birthday, just a little longer, 12th birthday, love letter to my daughter

She runs up to me and holds my face in her tiny hands, “Mama, I love you foreber and eber. Ok?” Gabs posed everything in question form as a toddler. Still, my heart knew what she meant. She was going to love me as long as I was going to love her. This is our legacy, to love just a little longer.

READ ALSO: Happy Birthday to my Daughter on her 14th Birthday

Since she was born, my personality doppelganger, she simultaneously pushed me away as she pulled me near. I got it. I get it. I am her and she is me. We are the same in so many ways. When she was tiny, so tiny, she wouldn’t let anyone else hold her (except for the Big Guy but still, she preferred me over all else and I loved it.) Everyone else hated it but, secretly, I loved that I was the one she always wanted and I happily obliged. How many evenings did we spend, just the two of us, feeding and her falling asleep in my arms? I could have stayed there in those quiet moments, just the two of us, forever.

READ ALSO: Love Letter to my Daughter on her 7th Birthday

But children are like trees, they plant roots but they just keep on growing and evolving; more beautiful and more majestic with each passing year. How I love to watch them grow. It is my greatest pleasure and biggest honor. That’s what being a mom is… letting go and being thankful for the opportunity to be part of something bigger than yourself. They are my legacy.

Still, as I watch my newly/nearly/almost 12-year-old, my heart still pulls toward her and wants to caress her face softly and check that she is breathing, just like I did on all those nights while I watched her sleep as a newborn. I may have even woken her up a few times, just to be able to hold her for just a little longer.

She is growing up to be such an amazing young woman. She is strong, independent, fierce and not fearless but brave. She is scared of a lot of things; mostly big things like death and life and endings and beginnings. She is wise beyond her years.  She has the wisdom of a scholar and a heart that loves with no boundaries. I am fascinated by who she is becoming.

READ ALSO: I’ll Love You Fourever

She is me and I am her but she is so much better than I could have ever have hoped to be. My Gabs is truly a gift to all who know her. She’s effortlessly witty and funny; charming in her own special way.  I only wish that she knew how genuine and one of a kind she is. I watch her from a close distance because she is not the child who wants me to do everything for her. She wants to do everything herself.

Learning from mistakes is where she thrives. Even though I hate to watch her stumble as she grows, her independence only allows me to help her up after she falls. That is the beauty in her. She never gives up. Once she decides what she wants the only thing that can stop her is her and I admire her for that. Her spirit is like an eagle taking flight and I love this kid more than words can adequately convey. I hope she always knows how proud and honored I feel to be her mother.

READ ALSO: Love Letter to My Daughter on her 11th Birthday

 

Gabs,

 

12-years ago tonight, I held you on my chest for the first time ever. Meeting you will always be one of the most profound moments of my life. I have and will always love you more than everything. You make me proud every single day of your life. Don’t grow up too fast. I want to hold you in my heart and be your favorite person just a little longer. Keep being yourself and making your videos and cracking your jokes. Keep saying what’s on your mind. Never stop dressing and dancing they way you want. You are amazing. You’ll always be my love and my life, sweet girl. I’m going to love you forever and ever, ok?

 

Love,

Mama

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